DDoS attacks on websites are more common than you might think. A recent survey by top security officials found that DDoS attacks are becoming more common. In 2020, Amazon Web Services experienced one of the largest DDoS attacks ever recorded. For web merchants, it’s essential to understand what DDoS attacks are and how to prevent them.
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What Does DDoS Attack Mean?
The acronym DDoS stands for Distributed Denial Of Service.
Part of what makes DDoS attacks so scary is that the malicious parties involved attacking your website by mimicking legitimate web traffic. In a typical transaction, an individual visits your website. The individual’s web browser sends a request to your business’ web server. With this data, the server then returns the content the visitor’s web browser requested.
What Happens During A DDoS Attack?
The acronym DDoS stands for Distributed Denial Of Service. A hacker or another malicious actor searches the web looking for computers, servers, and stand-alone internet-connected devices to take over in a DDoS attack.
Often, experienced hackers build networks of compromised computers and internet-connected devices over time. These networks of compromised machines can span the globe, and hackers refer to them as botnets.
In the last few years, with the rise of the dark web, there have been reports of hackers and other malicious actors renting the ready-made botnet networks’ services. Once a malicious actor has built or rented a botnet network, they use the bot network to attack websites.
How Will Botnets Attack My Site?
When a hacker controls a botnet, and they’ve decided they want to attack your website, they don’t need the login info for your website’s backend to execute the attack. They command their network of compromised devices to flood your website’s server with requests for content.
Put in layman’s terms, a DDoS attack means a hacker uses a network of hundreds or thousands of compromised devices to then flood your server with thousands or, in some cases, tens of thousands of requests for data simultaneously. The result of this is that in a short amount of time, your website is going to crash.
Once a DDoS attack has crashed your website, the only way to repair the damage is to contact your web host to have your website taken offline for hours or days while putting the proper security measures in place to prevent another DDoS attack.
How Do I Know If A Botnet Has Attacked My Site?
Again, what makes DDoS attacks so challenging to detect and mitigate is that they happen with no warning by mimicking legitimate web traffic. If your website has crashed and it appears that you might have been the victim of a DDoS attack, the first metric you should check is your site’s traffic.
DDoS Attacks Show Up As A Large, Unexpected Spike In Traffic
Depending on what type of CMS template you’re using, checking your website’s traffic is easy. There are many backend plugins available for your CMS system that will give you a quick, real-time look at how much traffic your website is drawing over time, and the number of active users currently on your site at any one time.
The other resource you’ll want to check is your website’s Google Analytics page. Your website’s Google Analytics page can give you a more comprehensive picture of your website’s traffic than the SEO plugins available for your CMS platform.
How Can I Prevent A DDoS Attack?
When it comes to web commerce security, you need to know that there’s no fool-proof way to prevent a DDoS attack, but there are several straightforward steps you can take to make one less likely.
- Install security plugins to your CMS system to block bots and malware
- Learn Google Analytics to stay on top of fluctuations in site traffic
- Geo-block all web traffic from suspicious or unsafe regions
- Outsource your security needs to a digital security firm
Also Read: How to Secure Your WordPress Site
DDoS attacks are costly and challenging to recover from. There’s no silver-bullet method to preventing a DDoS attack on your website. Still, there are measures you can take to monitor your site traffic and stop bots and malware from sabotaging your business operations and hurting your bottom line.